3D printing, also known as “Additive Manufacturing”, turns digital blueprints to physical objects by building them layer by layer. 4D printing is based on this technology. With one big difference: It uses special materials and sophisticated designs that are “programmed” to prompt your 3D print to change its shape.

So, basically, 4D printing is a renovation of 3D printing wherein special materials to print objects that change shape post-production. A trigger may be water, heat, wind and other forms of energy.

TED professor Skylar Tibbets first introduced the term 4D printing in his speech at the MIT Conference in February 2013.  4D printing is currently developed by many industry leaders and research facilities. As of 2017, the most important 4D printing companies/research labs are MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys, and 3D software company Autodesk.

However, as you can see below ,Australian and Singaporean researchers their contributions extend the range of materials suitable for 4D printing and help in bringing the technology closer to marketability. 4D printing technology makes use of materials such as single shape memory polymers, liquid crystal elastomers, composite hydrogel, SMP composites, SMP multi-material, and other multifunctional material because of their thermomechanical properties and other material properties.

Due to their properties, they are called “Smart Materials,” which maintains a temporary shape and comes back to their original shape over the impact of external sources.

An object fabricated by 4D printing technology using smart materials when brought into contact with external sources, like heat, water, etc., reacts and changes its form and size as programmed. It enables us to fabricate objects which are much larger than the size of the printer.

The demand for 4D Printing is expected to rise drastically. It is anticipated that very soon, the 3D Printing will be completely replaced by 4D Printing.

Written By,

Mr.Idhaya Raja -19BME072